The night of the election, my partner and I didn’t watch the news. After eight or so, we didn’t check our phones for updates. We watched a Wes Anderson movie we’ve seen countless times instead. Whatever would happen would happen, so why cling to each state’s results, why let dread or false hope rule our evening?
The next morning my partner looked up the news on his phone. “Trump won,” he said. I thought he was joking.
But no. Overnight, the world had changed.
I found I no longer felt safe in this country. Partly because a reality TV actor, billionaire, misogynist, xenophobic narcissist would now be our president, and partly because the people of this country elected him. But wait! They didn’t actually elect him. By nearly three million votes. Which was more troublesome. Along with the Russian hacking, etc. . . . Sleep became difficult—something I had to learn how to cultivate. (Except when I traveled to Mexico, where I slept like a baby.)
And now, two weeks into (Why is it so difficult to write his name here? Is some part of me still in denial?) Trump’s reign, I’m finding I must restrict my media uptake, or at least draw some parameters around it. In the morning I can no longer scan my emails on my phone while I’m still in bed. The bed, I’ve decided, must be a safe zone.
Never in the history of politics have we been this plugged in to our media. And when the news is all ghastly, when every bit of it knots one’s stomach, when it is only a source of destabilization and pain, how does one navigate it so as to avoid burnout?
My online activity seems to go in waves. When I’m feeling strong I’ll read the New York Times and I’ll look at my Facebook feed, and I soon find myself trembling with anger and fear, and writing or calling my senators.
The news affects us, and yet it is outside of us. So where and how do we meet it? To stick one’s head in the sand is ignorance, but to swim constantly in a toxic sea of horror is exhausting. It’s not healthy. And so I keep coming up against the question—what is my best, strongest course of action?
If I’m to stay in this political consciousness for much longer, I’m going to need a strategy. Otherwise, I’m batted about by every new gust of news—by the daily threat to everything I love—open spaces, wild animals, clean air and water, gay rights, women’s rights, minority’s rights, not to mention funding for the arts. Without a plan of action, I’m a kite without a flyer, or without a very good one.
Is it possible to not think of Trump for just one day?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. We have two hundred five and a half weeks to go. What’s your strategy for long-term resistance?
(The Women's March, January 21, 2017, Prescott, Arizona.)